Catalan independence supporters see brighter future alone
Posted October 7
BARCELONA, Spain (CNN) — Hundreds of thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets since last weekend's bitterly contested independence referendum to voice their support for a split from Spain.
The issue has divided opinion within the northeastern region, and the wider country.
Catalan nationalists argue the region is a separate nation with its own history, culture and language, and that it should have increased fiscal independence. But there are also many Catalans who oppose separatism.
Some pro-independence Catalans spoke to CNN in Barcelona on Friday about why they favor going it alone.
'Tired of subsidizing'
Retired industrial engineer Henrique Aparici, 74, said Catalonia -- a wealthy region -- was "tired of subsidizing practically the rest of Spain" while receiving no help from Madrid.
"Both sides are very angry. They don't want to talk, particularly Madrid does not want to talk. Here they are always with their doors open for dialogue, but I think this will end badly," he said.
Unless there is a U-turn, he said, the Spanish state "will annul the autonomy, more repression, more police forces and we will have a military intervention."
Aparici said the motivation for Catalonia's separatists has always been gaining greater fiscal autonomy.
"We're subsidizing Andalucia, we're subsidizing Extremadura, we're subsidizing, subsidizing, subsidizing ... and it comes a time where we don't feel like subsidizing any more. So the only thing that could happen here is that, by force, they make us carry on subsidizing," he said.
"This is what we wanted with the referendum, to know if we were the majority or not."
'They have made us angry'
Mireya Jimenez, 25, a journalism student, said the way the October 1 referendum was handled has hardened people's views in favor of independence. Hundreds of people were injured last weekend as police sent from Madrid tried to prevent the referendum going ahead.
"I didn't feel that repressed until what happened on October 1," she said. "I think a couple of years ago there were more people who didn't want it (independence), but after all that has happened, I think there are more people who want it.
"I don't think there is turning around. I think that whatever they do, they have made us angry, and I think we have seen that a ... part of Spain doesn't like us, the King doesn't like us either and so I think that, also because of how they've treated us just now, there is no turning back."
Jimenez said she doesn't feel represented by Spain because of its policies and the way it treats Catalans.
"I believe that by being independent we could ... manage ourselves better; we would have another kind of benefits that don't exist within Spain," she said.
'A better country'
Raul del Hoyo, 56, a logistics technician, said he feels Spanish as well as Catalan but believes in the region's bid for independence.
"We believe we have sufficient economic potential, social cohesion and initiative to be able to make a better country," he said.
"I'm very sad to have seen how the police took people who were only expressing or demonstrating, democratically, their right to vote, and their right to demonstrate on the street in order to achieve a political objective."
He said he believes there will be negotiations and that the two sides will find a solution that works for them both.
"There could be violence, but if there is violence, I am sure it will be institutional. Catalonia, for decades, not just now, for decades, has always demonstrated democratically its claims," he said.
"It's the part of the peninsula, or the part of Spain, that has always voted more in favor of Europe, of democratic values, of its anti-Franco struggle. It's a peaceful people, a people that organized itself around a set of values to grow more. We're not going against anything."
'They didn't listen to us'
Ana, who didn't want to give her last name for fear of repercussions, said Catalan independence is essential.
"We need to have it. So that all of us take everything that the state from Madrid takes from us," she said.
A 68-year-old retired administrative executive, Ana has been angered by the central authorities' treatment of Catalans in recent days.
"We've been very peaceful. They didn't listen to us and attacked the people, elderly people, children, very bad," she said.
"We hope that they engage in dialogue, that they talk and they fix this because we've never had an issue, between people who don't want independence and people who want it."
She said she hopes the recent tensions won't deter foreign visitors to Barcelona and the region, saying they will be welcomed with open arms.